Info from the professionals!
So many times we nonprofessionals try to give all the advice when you really want to hear what the professionals do. (I’m equating having a book published and making a living as a writer as being a professional author.)
Today, I had the great opportunity to go to a local literary festival. If you’re an author then take advantage of these places. They’re great for networking, selling your books, and meeting all kinds of people in the business. I met five today who are in various stages of the publishing game, but one thing they all have in common is success.
First up I met Jackson Pearce who gave a talk on YA. She was so gracious to sign my book and give me a one-one chat to pass her tips to you guys. First and foremost, and it’s as trite as the expression first and foremost, you need an editor! You must have an editor if you’re going to do anything with your book.
Miss Pearce said that the phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey was a fluke! Most indie authors who don’t put effort into editing don’t do well. She also said that YA and grade school books do better in traditional hardcover and paperback books. The target audience, kids in school, still do most of their book browsing at book fairs that go to the schools and browsing at their local malls and libraries.
That means that you, the YA and grade school author, need to expect to have your book on par with traditionally published books. You have to be able to compete with them to get the attention of an agent or publishing house.
Another way to do that is to be unique with your story. Jackson said that the YA genre is very susceptible to retelling. That is plots, such as inhuman boy/girl with human girl/boy, that are retold in every book. The genre is oversaturated with certain stories! Tell a new story.
Jessica Hawke, another YA paranormal author, echoed Miss Pearce in that authors need editors, material books are better for the YA and grade school genres and be unique with characters and plot.
So basically, kids be creative.
Another tidbit that Jackson said is to write what you know and research what you don’t. This is one of my personal mantras.
Miss Hawke said to know the genre. That is, do your research and read books that are already doing well in your genre.
Allison and I always tell our clients to build the world well in the beginning and to know the rules of the story upfront. Jessica said the same thing during our chat. Know the rules of the story, and stay in them throughout the book. Basically, don’t have a vampire suddenly able to die like a human on page 100. Be consistent, but also allow some flexibility. Jessica said that often you’ll end up having to look at your own rule in a new way, so allow for that early on.
Jessica Hawke is an indie author while Jackson Pearce is traditionally published. Both write YA and romance, and both publish them similarly. They agreed that while YA and grade school is better in tangible form romance lends itself better to E-books.
Women are the biggest buyers of books, E-book and traditional. Women want that escape, so once a woman likes an author she’ll stay loyal. We all know women who buy new books weekly or daily, so if you write romance take advantage of that.
Another romance author, Hildie Mcqueen, did a talk on self-publishing. She was so sweet to talk to me afterward and besides being hilarious she had great info on how she makes a living indie publishing. (She makes more self-publishing than she made at her job.) Branding and marketing. Be active on social media, traditional media, and brand yourself. Have an author platform and a website, not a Facebook author page, but a real website where fans can come visit you at your home. If the fans like your home then they’ll come back.
I also had the opportunity to meet a local indie author, Bryce Gibson, who writes thrillers set here in the south. Mr. Gibson asked me if any of my clients actually used real editors right at the start of the chat. Mr. Gibson hammered the fact that authors need editors. He uses beta readers first, but he’d never put a book out without a real editor seeing it first.
Bryce’s biggest piece of advice was for me as a beta reader/editor. Be honest. For the writer that means hire an honest reader or editor and your book will be better for it. He appreciated the raw feedback on his books, and he uses many pairs of eyes. The more people who read the story the more well-rounded the feedback is. He said that way an author can take the opinions they need and dump the rest, but they’ll end up with the best feedback overall.
That’s a lot of info I know, but I’ll leave you with one last author. Kimberley Lawson Roby is an NYT and a USA Today bestselling author. Since she is famous and there was a large audience to see her, I had to settle for the talk she gave. But what a talk! Mrs. Roby was rejected by every agent and publisher she tried, so she started her own publishing house. After the first book took off she had agents after her, and now she’s very successful.
Mrs. Roby said that for her to have to learn the business by being an Indie author first benefited her. So take all the rejections and setbacks as valuable info for later once your book takes off.
If you want to check out any of the authors I met today here’s some links to their social media and websites. Happy writing, peeps.
P.S. I'll just say that the authors offered the info given freely. I asked what were their best pieces of advice and they all emphasized editing at some point, especially for Indie authors. So many indie authors just post a book on Amazon without having it professionally edited, and to these authors, this was completely unacceptable.
Kimberly Lawson Roby:
Author Kimberla Lawson Roby signs rights deal with Lifetime TV: http://www.targetmarketnews.com/storyid01060902.htm